The Virgin Mary, Joseph, and an itinerant angel
ride down our street in the back of a pick up truck
followed by a small brass band and a crowd of faithful pilgrims,
in the 4th night of posadas in San Miguel.
La Posada is a reenactment of Mary and Joseph’s search for a place to stay so she could have the baby Jesus, and how they were refused many times before they were finally offered a place in the manger. In the original Mexican version of the story Mary rides a burro, but tonight they are climbing aboard the back of a flatbed truck adorned with palm fronds and tinsel and stars made of glitter. An assistant paints a beard on the young Joseph and arranges his gold polyester robes, while Mary takes her seat on the paper mache burro against a backdrop of glittery stars. An young smirking preteen girl dressed as an angel brings her hands into a prayer position, and off they go.
As the truck lurches forward down the narrow streets we 'pilgrims' all follow behind, some carrying tissue paper stars on poles which bob up and down as we walk. The band strikes up and plays a few stanzas, then the people sing, alternating between the band and the voices, followed by a police car escort to keep the surrounding traffic at bay. At one point an ambulance squeals around the corner toward us with it’s sirens wailing, then upon seeing the procession of people filling the street, abruptly slams on the brakes and backs out to find another route. We wind through the cobblestone streets, singing and chatting, as the grind of the generator on the truck that keeps the spotlight on the holy family sputters on. 'Couldn’t they have used a car battery to power the lights?' Mark asks. But why should they when noise is never an issue here.
Suddenly a colorful star shaped piñata drops into the center of the crowd from a rope strung between two buildings. A pole and a blindfold appear, and the whole procession stops as a young man takes a few swings at it until it cracks wide open and sweets fly out in all directions and are swept up in no time by children and adults alike. A few block later candy and oranges are thrown from the rooftops onto outstretched hands and unwary heads.
Finally we arrive at the church and the chorus breaks out into a new song, asking
for posada/ lodging and being refused again. Tomorrow there will be another posada taking a different route, nine in all, that will eventually lead the weary pilgrims to the manger. Then everyone can place their baby Jesuses into their carefully constructed nativity scenes among the sheep and elephants and wise men and await the arrival of the three kings, who will be carrying gifts for all.
-posted by Susan